Our Maryland Legislative Priorities for 2016
If you support a clean environment and strong, healthy communities, be an advocate for clean water issues at the federal, state and local levels!
Blue Water Baltimore is different from other environmental non-profits because we bring the combined expertise of implementation and advocacy together under one roof. Advocacy is the effort to influence an outcome, the allocation of resources, or the passage of legislation.
On January 13, 2016, The Maryland General Assembly will convene for the 2016 Legislative Session.
For ninety days, Blue Water Baltimore staff, board and volunteers will be busy working to defend existing environmental laws in Maryland and to pass new legislation that protects our waterways, and improves the health of neighborhoods and citizens. We are pleased to work with organizations and elected officials throughout the state of Maryland in advancing a broad and meaningful set of environmental objectives.
As we start this period of intense advocacy, I want to share with you our legislative priorities for 2016.
Blue Water Baltimore will play a lead role in three primary areas: banning plastic bags, promoting environmental justice, and ensuring the adequate funding of environmental agencies and programs.
- First, we are working with Trash Free Maryland and Delegate Brooke Lierman to pass the Community Clean up and Greening bill — a law that would ban plastic bags and charge ten cents for paper. Many states and Washington DC have already done this. This is the year for Maryland to make it happen!
- Second, Blue Water Baltimore will be working on legislation centered around environmental justice. For far too long, some communities have suffered more than others from exposure to toxic chemicals and other pollution sources in the air, water and soil. We are seeking a change in how the Maryland Department of the Environment accounts for the cumulative impacts of multiple pollution sources prior to issuing any new permits for additional pollution discharge.
- Third, Maryland needs a strong budget that protects funding for important programs which are defending open space, paying for stormwater restoration projects, funding urban forestry and greening, and much more: programs that are already in place! We also need to ensure that key agencies are funded at levels that allow them to do their jobs, including enforcement and oversight of existing laws and regulations.
In addition to working on these three primary issues, Blue Water Baltimore will also support other organizations on additional areas of important legislation.
- First, we intend to support legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to ensure that a larger percentage of our energy comes from renewable energy in the next five years.
- Second, we plan to support efforts to restrict use of a class of toxic insecticides known as neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids have been shown to contribute to the death of bees and other pollinators. Did you know that one of every three bites of food we eat happens because of the pollinators’ role in our food system? These pesticides also poison our bird and butterfly populations. Neonicotinoids are also toxic to aquatic life in our streams and the Chesapeake Bay, with a recent study connecting them to the premature death of molting blue crabs.
Of course, while we work hard on Maryland-wide issues Blue Water Baltimore will continue to be active in shaping environmental policies in both Baltimore City and County as well.
Over the next ninety days we will need your help, and more than once!
More than ever, our representatives need to be hearing from you. They pay attention and value constituents contacting them on issues that are important to them. We know how busy everyone is, so we will work to keep you informed and provide easy action steps you can do to help us with this important work.